Teaching Science When Your Principal Says "Teach Language Arts"

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Science and Children


As an assistant professor of elementary science education, I teach many practicing teachers in graduate courses and teacher in­stitutes. While some elementary teachers may avoid teaching science (Borko 1992; Enochs and Riggs 1990; Smith and Neale 1989), the elementary teachers who take my courses are generally very enthusiastic about teaching science and want to learn strategies to help them become better science teachers. These teachers believe that language arts are important and that science and other important disciplines can be supported by language arts, even with a reciprocal relationship (Akerson and Flanigan 2000; Dickinson, Burns, Hagen, and Locker 1997; Dickinson and Young 1998). Recently, however, several teachers have commented that principals tell them to focus on language arts and mathematics because those subject areas are being tested. While some teachers may be specifically told not to teach science, most are being asked only to emphasize language arts. This can make it difficult to satisfactorily meet state and national recommendations that indicate science content should be learned in kindergarten through high school. To help address this problem, teachers are seeking strategies that can help them focus on language arts while continuing to do a good job teaching science.


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Language teachers, Science teachers, Science education, Childrens literature, Science learning, Reading instruction, Writing instruction


Akerson, V. L. (2001). Teaching science when the principal says “teach language arts” Science and Children, 38 (7), 42-4


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